I’m sitting in my cozy Rotterdam apartment, coffee in hand, rushing to finish assignments that are due on blackboard in less than an hour. I swear, I’m usually better about not procrastinating, but life as a student-traveler has it’s distractions.
Weekends are spent discovering new towns or cities or spending time with new people that have so much to teach you. See, it’s different than procrastinating back home (or so I tell myself). The cliche that “traveling can teach you more than a classroom” holds so much truth, especially regarding solo travel.
I just got back from my first solo trip to London. As a young woman, people questioned: Will you be okay on your own? What will you even do? Well, I value my independence incredibly, so going on this trip excited me more than scared me. But, it is also important to take the precautions to ensure your safety. London was a good location for me because I have been before, two years ago, and there would be no language barrier.
I took a FlixBus for only 25 euros from Rotterdam to London. This takes you through the “chunnel,” which is an underwater tunnel from France to the UK. It was completely insane to me that engineers accomplished such a feat. You’re literally traveling 250 feet underwater for 23.5 miles. I probably would not recommend this experience for someone who is claustrophobic. My own amazement for how it’s possible to travel so quickly underwater overshadowed how un-spacious the journey was. I really loved traveling by bus, mostly because you bypass that annoying airport security.
I arrived in London in the darkness that is 5:45 a.m. A usually hustling and bustling city was still asleep. I walked through the streets admiring the juxtaposition of modern buildings, historical palaces and city parks. London is the home of booming businesses and inspiring creative work. I felt the significance of the tall skyscrapers in the Financial district and inspiration in the murals on Camden High Street.
Traveling alone, you are not on anyone else’s schedule and are free to follow your curiosities at your own delight. My curiosities took me to places like the Tate Modern museum, which offers free exhibitions to the public. I adore modern and contemporary art, so I slowly strolled from room to room as it rained outside.
My curiosities took me to go see live music alone, although that sounds interesting or perhaps unenjoyable, I seriously would recommend that everyone try it. It put me in the path to meet awesome people with similar tastes and interests. I loved it.
Also, I was so lucky to have a little piece of home while in London. My friend from SDSU, who is studying just outside of London, took the train into the city to meet me. We met for a day, strolled Portobello market, and had drinks near the beautiful Tower Bridge. I got to see and enjoy London through her eyes.
As I sit here, coffee in hand, looking back at my experience, I believe that one solo trip while abroad is so important, if not crucial. You’ll be able to spend your time as you want it. It’s such a privilege to me to have this opportunity to travel the world to discover the new and reinforce the things or ideas that I love. I’d hate to look back at my abroad experience thinking that I only went on the trips that others wanted to and neglected what I truly wanted to do.
It went so well, I’m planning to go on another solo trip to a country with a different culture. I’m busting at the seams with excitement of what I’ll find.
Kelsey Deguia is media studies major. She will be studying at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands for the 2016-17 academic year.